Poway residents want to know how a financing plan for school construction could end up costing almost nine times what was borrowed.
Poway Unified School District board members listened Monday night as residents voiced their concerns about the $105 million loan that could take taxpayers close to a billion dollars to repay.
The loan is part of Proposition C, a bond measure passed by voters in 2008 to complete renovations and repairs to 24 aging school that began in 2002 under Proposition U.
The district promised the property tax rate would not go up again but with property values in decline, the district issued a bond in 2011 with financing over 40 years, no payment due for 20, and interest compounding.
It was a packed house Monday night as residents complained to board members that they felt left in the dark about how the district planned to pay for a bond.
Poway resident Joyce Haas, whose three children attended school in Poway, said she was appalled by the board's judgment.
“Where do you think this money is going to come from? It’s not going to come from me. I'm going to be dead and buried,” Haas said.
“This is the classic example of kicking the bucket down the road and letting our grandchildren pay for it.”
District officials said the process has been transparent.
Superintendent John Collins offered a step-by-step presentation as to how the district came to the decision. He said if you look at the whole picture, the district is actually paying an acceptable ratio of 4 to 2.
Collins told NBC 7 that the district avoided inflation by building sooner rather than later, and children are benefiting now.
Board member Todd Gotchow agrees saying the community needs to look at the big picture. He told NBC 7 in a previous report that taxpayers received $543 million worth of renovations, with the two bonds taken together at a cost of a little more than $1 billion.
Little comfort for those citizens who told the board they felt betrayed.
“I don’t trust you anymore,” Poway resident Sharon Swildens said. “I’m hoping you finish out your terms and then not run again.”
However, longtime resident Dick Lyles offered some hope at Monday’s meeting.
“I’m confident given the resources that exist in this community we can come up with positive solutions if we all put our minds to that,” Lyles said.
“Don’t circle the wagons and don’t launch an assault," he said. "Let’s focus on the problem not the people and let’s solve it for crying out loud.”
On Tuesday, San Diego County Treasurer Dan McAllister said he's pursuing legislative changes at the state level to increase transparency so what happened in Poway will never happen again.
"All we're asking for is really the truing up of the two codes. It seems as though districts are able to work and wiggle depending on what the day is, or the weather is like and the economic climate to manufacture something that isn't always necessarily in the best interest of the constituencies," McAllister said.